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2019 top Dodgers prospects: No. 16-20

Our review of the Dodgers’ farm system continues with No. 16-20

MLB: Spring Training-Los Angeles Dodgers at Kansas City Royals
Matt Beaty’s hit tool should be strong enough for him to carve himself a big league career.
Orlando Ramirez-USA TODAY Sports

20. Jeren Kendall (CF)

2019 will only be Kendall’s second full season in the minor leagues, but it feels like his career is already at a crossroads. His offense bottomed out in the California League in 2018, with a complete swing rebuild on the table for a possible comeback this season. Kendall’s athleticism and secondary tools still remain easy pluses, making it hard to discount his prospect status too much right now.

It’s difficult to talk about Kendall’s present offensive value without having seen his work to correct his many swing flaws this off-season. By year’s end with Rancho Cucamonga, Kendall’s swing was very stiff and practically single tracked, leaving too much of the zone uncovered. He still would flash pop, and Kendall had plus power coming out of Vanderbilt, but the present hit tool leaves him in danger of never breaking into the upper minors.

Loosening his swing and making his set-up more adaptable to in at-bat adjustments is only part of the battle, as Kendall’s pitch recognition is also a question mark. He will walk at a decent clip, but the strikeouts jumped into dangerous territory. Kendall’s speed is still a real weapon both on the basepaths and in manning center field, while his plus arm can play at any position in the outfield.

Kendall will likely return to the California League in 2019, though whether or not he starts the year there or in extended spring training will be determined by the Dodgers’ confidence in his swing adjustments. His very brief appearance with the big league club in spring training showed a little more fluidity in his set up, but a swing that was still pretty steep and stiff.

With the national prospect writers ready to write him off, Kendall will need to prove just an average hit tool to maintain his prospect status. That’s still a tall ask, given how he finished last year. It’s hard to count out a player still young and arguably the best athlete in the system, and the Dodgers will exhaust all options with his development to try to tap into his still immense potential.

19. Robinson Ortiz (LHP)

The kid gloves were still on for Ortiz’s development in 2018, with Robinson throwing just 32 innings with the rookie affiliate. Ortiz showed even better arm strength and more strikeout potential in his stint with the team, and looks primed for a larger role in 2019. Though full season ball is still likely a year away save for a late-season cameo, Ortiz is one of the more promising arms to look forward to in the coming years.

Despite an undersized (6’0) and already filled out frame, Ortiz generates power with a quick arm and fluid delivery. He sometimes will show balance issues on release that will cause him to miss high, but his overall polish is superior to his teenage peers.

Ortiz had begun to push his velocity into the mid 90’s in 2018. He still gets excellent life on his fastball, and his quick arm helps his change-up play up as a swing and miss pitch to right-handers. His curveball can look loopy at times and is still best used against left-handers, but his athleticism and arm speed should help him refine the shape and velocity of the pitch to eventually flash plus.

Ortiz’s command and ability to miss bats is already advanced for the rookie level, but his outings have yet to be stretched out to fit a full season role. He should be in line for a trip to the Pioneer League, where the offensive friendly environments should make for a sufficient test for him, and he could still see time with Great Lakes with a strong performance in Ogden.

While Ortiz has plenty of room for refinement as a 19 year old, he isn’t as projectable as many other players his age, and he likely will top out as a mid-rotation starter. He could move up several spots on this list if he proves himself ready to break the full season barrier, and Ortiz has the pitchability to start moving quickly once he proves better stamina.

18. Matt Beaty (1B/3B)

Chicago Cubs v Los Angeles Dodgers Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images

Injury prevented Beaty from carrying momentum from a stellar 2017 over into his 2018 campaign with Tulsa. Though his numbers didn’t stand out, Beaty is still one of the better contact hitters in the system and could contend for a reserve role at some point in 2019.

Though Beaty may be short on tools compared to the other hitters in this prospect tier, his pitch recognition and barrel control make him a good fit to combat the high strikeout pitchers in the modern game. Beaty’s set-up in the box is relaxed and easy, with a short load and quick trigger and a swing plane built for gap to gap line drives. His power is just average to fringe given the need for him to manage a corner position, and his overall offensive production likely couldn’t carry first base full time.

To his credit, Beaty has been flexible defensively and the Dodgers have worked to broaden his positional proficiency. Beaty played first, second, third and left field in 2018, with first and third being his best positions. He is an average athlete with enough arm to fill a part time four corners role.

While Beaty may not have the tools to profile as an every day player, he could carve a long career as a pinch hitter thanks to his ability to make consistent contact. He has enough pop to take a couple of starts a week in an outfield corner or first base, and could sustain longer playing time as a more contact oriented hitter amidst a more strikeout prone lineup.

Already 25 years old, Beaty is more or less a finished product physically, and only needs better health and more AAA at bats this season to prepare for a future big league role. Beaty might fit best with a rebuilding club as a “safer” bat to balance against younger and more mercurial talent. The Dodgers are deep in corner bats, which lengthens his odds with Los Angeles, but his hitting skill set is unique enough to give him a chance to break through in the next two seasons.

17. Josh Sborz (RHP)

A move to the bullpen seemed to be the best fit for Sborz’s stuff, pushing his strikeout rate into attractive territory and helping him earn a spot on the 40 man roster. While his velocity is still just average to slightly above, his aggressive mound mentality helps his stuff play up and should make a positive impact on a club even in middle relief.

Now sitting more comfortably in the mid 90’s, Sborz can pitch off his fastball effectively with swing and miss potential up in the zone with “rising” action. He can also create deception when throwing down in the zone thanks to an unconventional delivery and high slot.

Sborz will use two breaking balls in relief, with the curveball having more swing and miss potential, but the slider likely to get more use based on his command of the pitch. The slider has short break and he keeps the pitch in the zone, though he will lose his release and flatten out the break up in the zone. His curveball has a spike-like action, but can be tough for him to keep in the zone and primarily gets swings as a chase pitch. In relief, Sborz has little need for his change-up.

A decorated collegian at Virginia, Sborz has always had an impressive mound presence, and his competitiveness suits him in a short relief role. He doesn’t have the best stuff of the relief prospects in this tier, but he commands his pitches better and still generates satisfactory strikeout rates.

As a member of the 40-man roster, Sborz will likely get the chance to make his big league debut in 2019, but the competition for middle relief roles is fierce in the organization. His compete level will make any bullpen better even if he just fills a role in the sixth and seventh innings. Sborz long track record of success from college to pro ball could also make him an attractive trade candidate.

16. Connor Wong (C/2B)

MLB: Spring Training-Los Angeles Dodgers at Los Angeles Angels Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports

While Wong put up better counting statistics than Jeren Kendall in 2018, like the toolsy outfielder, his trouble with contact could hamper his ultimate prospect status. Wong’s batted ball profile still allowed him to impact the game at a high level when putting the ball in play, and his power and athleticism are still rare at the catcher position.

Wong came just one home run shy of a 20-20 double-home run campaign in 2018, with a high lift swing and good strength boosting his power. He sells out for pop, costing him average, but that isn’t the only factor contributing to his high K rate. Wong has a tendency to get too rotational in his swing which can cause him to pull off the ball and leave him susceptible to pitches on the outer half of the zone. He also has a more complicated two tap timing mechanism that can be fouled up when he fails to properly diagnose pitches.

Wong was lauded for his versatility when he was drafted out of Houston, but he primarily spent the 2018 season behind the plate. He is still athletic enough to handle second or third in a pinch. Wong is a fairly sound receiver and his low to the ground build and crouch help him set a good target and frame pitches down in the zone.

Wong’s California League campaign should be enough to bump him up to Double-A in 2019, but the catching position gets more crowded above that. He will probably never hit for much average, but his power and versatility might make him a capable spot starter and bench bat on a first division club. The Dodgers are also deep enough in catching talent to make Wong a potential trade candidate as well, though he’s more likely to move up the organizational depth chart with more attractive trade candidates ahead of him in Triple-A.

2019 Top Prospects 16-104

16 Connor Wong C/2B 22.10 HiA 50 45 50 good athlete for C,solid pop and bip profile, utility swing and miss concern, upside might be reserve
17 Josh Sborz RHRP 25.03 AAA 50 45 50 high floor, command of three pitches, competitive moved to full time relief, likely more middle upside
18 Matt Beaty 1B/3B 25.11 AAA 50 45 50 excellent feel for hit, career production, game pop limited ceiling, future defensive home
19 Robinson Ortiz LHSP 19.03 ROK 50 35 60 lively FB, good athlete, feel for pitching, + CH upside more mid rotation than upper, projection
20 Jeren Kendall CF 23.02 HiA 50 35 60 elite athlete, will flash + to ++ speed and defense needs a complete swing rework, low floor
21 Jaime Schultz RHRP 27.09 MLB 50 40 55 good K potential, + CV and SL, flashes + FB poor command, relief only prospect, HR prone
22 Ben Holmes LHSP 27.07 AA 50 45 50 4 pitch mix, pitchability, sneaky FB, durable build upside of bottom rotation or middle relief, age
23 Morgan Cooper RHSP 24.07 ROK 50 40 55 good frame, + BB with BB manipulation, production has yet to throw professional pitch, shoulder ?
24 Cody Thomas RF/LF 24.06 HiA 50 40 55 good athlete, improving fluidity, still upside swing and miss concerns, may not have enough hit
25 Gerardo Carrillo RHRP 20.07 LoA 50 40 55 electric arm, smooth athlete, chance for + SNK undersized, possibly reliever, command
26 Stetson Allie RHRP 28.01 AAA 50 40 50 power arm, chance for ++ FB, tight SL age, still raw on mound, inconsistent command
27 Yadier Alvarez RHRP 23.01 AA 50 35 55 swing and miss SL, consistently + velo, loose arm poor command, FB doesn't miss bats, maturity
28 Brayan Morales CF 23.04 LoA 50 40 50 good athlete, + to ++ speed, chance for + D inconsistent hit tool, thin build, swing and miss
29 Donovan Casey LF/RF/CF 23.01 HiA 50 40 50 twitchy athlete, bat speed, still upside batted ball profile, still raw at plate, power pot
30 Omar Estevez SS/2B 21.01 HiA 50 40 50 improved bip profile, good pop for 2B, swing plane some swing and miss concern, low dev. path
31 Marshall Kasowski RHRP 24.01 AA 45 45 50 big K production, chance for + FB and CV relief prospect, atypical delivery, age for level
32 Jared Walker 3B/1B 23.02 HiA 45 40 55 + game power, good athlete for size, '18 production still swing and miss ?, defensive home
33 Carlos Rincon RF 21.06 HiA 45 35 60 big raw power, physical upside, bat speed pretty raw offensively, serious swing and miss
34 Jacob Amaya SS/2B 20.07 SS 45 40 55 excellent plate approach, developing feel for hit ? on overall power potential, distance from majors
35 Kyle Garlick LF/RF 27.02 AAA 45 45 50 productive, developing above avg game pop 4th outfielder profile, age, fringe speed
36 Adam McCreery LHRP 26.03 MLB 45 45 50 heavy SNK from high slot, tough 1-7 CV, K potential age, command issues, likely middle relief
37 Jordan Sheffield RHRP 23.10 HiA 45 40 55 flashes + FB and sharp downer BB in short stints pro production, likely relief only at this point
38 Deacon Liput SS/2B 22.09 LoA 45 45 50 good defensive actions, athleticism, some pop, hit likely utility ceiling, uneven college production
39 Darien Nunez LHRP 26.00 LoA 45 45 50 good K production, lively FB and downer BB older signee, likely middle relief prospect
40 Guillermo Zuniga RHSP/RP 20.05 ROK 45 40 55 quick arm, good present velo, chance for + CH, SNK SL flashes fringe, profile poss. relief
41 Logan Salow LHRP 24.06 HiA 45 45 50 good pitchability, K potential, tight SL FB velo can be fringe for relief, age for level
42 Braydon Fisher RHSP 18.08 ROK 45 35 55 athletic and projectable, good run and sink on FB, CH inconsistent mechanics, some effort, still raw
43 Starling Heredia LF/RF 20.02 LoA 45 35 55 strong build, big raw power, decent upside serious swing and miss, bat speed concerns
44 Melvin Jimenez RHRP 19.08 LoA 45 35 55 good arm strength, projectable, chance for + SNK long arm action, command ?, likely reliever
45 Errol Robinson SS 24.06 AA 45 45 45 smooth infield actions, throwing arm, solid athlete ? on overall offensive ceiling, limited power
46 Zach Willeman RHRP 23.00 LoA 45 40 50 good arm strength, repeatable delivery, K potential likely reliever only, longer injury history
47 Zach Reks LF/RF 25.05 AA 45 45 45 good feel for hit, production, high floor age for level, more 4th OF profile
48 Jake Peter 2B/SS 25.11 AAA 45 45 45 fluid LH swing, arm strength, versatile utility/bench upside, ? on overall pop
49 Edwin Uceta RHSP 21.03 HiA 45 40 50 loose and fluid athlete, good pitchability for age smallish build, avg career production, ceiling
50 Wills Montgomerie RHSP/RP 23.10 HiA 45 40 50 spin rate, durable build, flashes + velo and CV still struggling w/ command, likely reliever
51 Daniel Corcino RHRP 28.07 AAA 45 45 45 above avg FB and SL combo, solid command middle relief upside, age, no + offering
52 Yaisel Sierra RHRP 27.10 AAA 45 40 50 good velo, SL will flash +, quick arm command, incon. release, FB can be straight
53 Jesen Therrien RHRP 26.00 AAA 45 45 45 SL flashes +, good command and K production TJ wiped out '18. middle relief/ROOGY upside
54 Michael Boyle LHRP 24.11 AA 45 45 45 solid pitchability, velo ticking up, developing SL avg production, stuff profiles better in short relief
55 Bryan Warzek LHSP/RP 22.02 LoA 45 40 50 huge K production, good action on the FB, compete not projectable, might fit best in relief role
56 Leo Crawford LHSP 22.02 HiA 45 40 50 solid production, command of 3 pitch mix fringe velo, not as projectable, likely back end
57 Romer Cuadrado RF/CF 21.07 LoA 45 35 55 good athlete for his size, chance for plus power huge swing and miss concerns, too raw
58 Drew Finley RHSP/RP 22.09 SS 45 40 50 good spin rate, chance for + CU, still upside poor production as pro, fringe velo, command
59 John Rooney LHSP/RP 22.02 LoA 45 45 45 excellent college production, size, 3 pitch mix no outright + pitch, late rotation or mid relief upside
60 Justin Yurchak 1B 22.06 LoA 45 40 50 excellent plate approach, smooth LH swing defensive home, ? on power ceiling, upside
61 Ryan Moseley RHRP 24.06 HiA 45 40 50 chance for ++ snk, big groundball potential command and walk rate, middle relief ceiling
62 Jesus Vargas RHSP/RP 20.07 SS 45 40 50 chance for + FB, tight SL, solid command, upside 3rd pitch underdeveloped, still raw, injury in '18
63 Max Gamboa RHSP 23.04 HiA 45 40 50 excellent arm strength, + to ++ velo, good frame production does not match stuff, incon. SL
64 Shea Spitzbarth RHRP 24.06 AA 45 45 45 agressive mound demeanor, arm strength, CV middle relief upside, maxed out frame, size
65 Andre Scrubb RHRP 24.03 AA 45 40 50 deceptive, solid K production, CV flashes above avg likely middle relief upside, command wavers
66 Layne Somsen RHRP 29.10 AA 45 45 45 tough overhead BB, production, athletic limited mid relief ceiling, age, avg FB velo
67 James Outman CF/RF 21.11 SS 45 40 50 good size, athletic and defensive rep, chance for + pop raw for a collegian, swing and miss concerns
68 Nolan Long RHRP 25.02 AA 45 45 45 improving K production, flashes + SL, big frame middle relief upside, velocity generally avg
69 Alfredo Tavarez RHRP 21.04 LoA 45 35 50 king sized frame, arm strength, K potential still raw mechanically, repeating arm slot, command
70 Andre Jackson RHSP/RP 22.11 LoA 45 35 50 solid athlete, flashes + FB and CH, upside poor command, SL can flatten, poss. reliever
71 Marcus Chiu 2B/3B 22.03 SS 45 35 50 good athlete, still projectable, above avg pop power over hit profile, ultimate defensive home
72 Jefrey Souffront 2B/3B 21.10 SS 45 40 45 some feel for hit, quick bat, mature plate approach distance from the majors, build not projectable
73 Jose Chacin RHSP 22.00 LoA 45 35 50 projectable frame, tight SL, mid rotation upside present FB avg to fringe, K potential
74 Riley Ottesen RHSP/RP 24.05 ROK 45 35 50 good velo, will flash + SL, arm speed poor production, serious command issues
75 Hunter Feduccia C 21.10 LoA 45 40 45 good feel for hit and plate approach, bat plane little on field action due to injury, upside
76 Zach McKinstry 3B/2B/SS 23.11 AA 45 40 45 pretty swing, good defensive versatility, some pop fringe/utility ceiling, age for level, not projectable
77 Jose Martinez RHSP 19.11 ROK 45 35 50 smooth delivery, advanced feel for age, command not as projectable as peers, distance from majors
78 Leonel Valera 3B/SS 19.09 SS 45 35 50 solid bat speed, decent loft in swing, loose athlete lithe build, distance from majors, power ceiling
79 Niko Hulsizer LF/RF 22.02 SS 45 35 50 big raw power, production, good size ? on overall hit tool, some swing and miss concern
80 Sauryn Lao 3B/1B 19.08 ROK 45 35 50 good bat speed, solid frame, power potential slower to develop, ? on defensive home
81 Devin Mann 2B/3B/SS 22.02 LoA 40 40 50 solid athlete, good plate approach, chance for avg pop defensive home, bat speed ?, poss. utility upside
82 Josh McLain CF 22.06 LoA 40 45 45 excelent bat to ball skills, solid defensive rep little power production, 4th OF upside
83 Gregorio Sequera RHRP 21.04 SS 40 40 50 arm strength, some feel for spin, 3 pitches age for level, likely reliever, command
84 Chris Mathewson RHSP/RP 23.10 HiA 40 40 45 SNK/SL mix, developing K production, command back of rotation, middle relief upside, fringe velo
85 Joe Broussard RHRP 29.05 AAA 40 40 45 solid production, flashes tight SL, durable frame limited upside, velo fringe to avg
86 Stephen Kolek RHRP 21.11 LoA 40 40 45 durable build, four pitch mix, some arm strength long relief or swingman profile, avg college prod.
87 Parker Curry RHSP 25.04 HiA 40 40 45 solid career production, good command, competitive no true plus offering, low rotation ceiling
88 Nathan Witt RHRP 22.11 ROK 40 35 50 good build, projectable, arm strength project arm, distance from majors, relief upside
89 Luke Heyer 2B/3B 22.06 LoA 40 40 45 college production, chance for above avg pop, strong avg athlete, ? on defensive home, bat speed
90 Mike Ahmed 3B/SS/1B 27.02 AA 40 40 45 productive in '16, swing plane, avg pop bat speed, age, limited upside
91 Rolando Lebron CF/RF 20.11 ROK 40 40 45 twitchy, good feel for hit, bat speed undersized, old for level, lower upside than peers
92 Brandon Montgomery SS/2B/CF 23.02 HiA 40 40 45 solid bat to ball skills, High A production, utility limited ceiling, poss. 4A player, age for level
93 Dillon Paulson 1B 21.10 SS 40 40 45 chance for above avg pop, strong build bat speed ?, overall hit tool and ceiling
94 Albert Suarez SS/2B 19.04 ROK 40 35 50 fluid athlete, some projectability, rep for D modest production, distance from bigs, ceiling ?
95 Jair Camargo C 19.09 ROK 40 40 45 some defensive potential, has flashing hitting acumen not as projectable, did not take step forward in '18
96 Jeremy Arocho 2B 20.06 SS 40 40 45 good feel for hit, barrel control, decent athlete limited ceiling, ? on power potential
97 Logan Landon CF/LF/RF 26.01 AA 40 40 45 good athlete, playing speed, some feel for hit not projectable, age, low ceiling, 4th OF type
98 Jacob Gilliland RHSP/RP 19.02 ROK 40 35 50 quick arm, chance for above avg FB and CH poor command, CV can be fringy, raw
99 Daniel Robinson LF 22.05 SS 40 40 45 solid feel for hit, all fields approach, productive limited ceiling, 4th OF profile, power ceiling ?
100 Moises Perez 2B 21.08 LoA 40 40 45 loose athlete, some feel for hit offensive ceiling, lower on defensive spectrum
101 Yeison Cespedes RHRP 21.01 SS 40 35 50 quick arm, good sink on FB, tight SL a little behind on age curve, likely relief only
102 Juan Morillo RHSP/RP 20.00 ROK 40 35 50 projectable build, loose arm, solid K production distance from majors, command, still raw
103 Jerming Rosario RHSP 16.11 NA 40 30 50 projectable, athletic, arm speed, dev. 3 pitch mix very raw, effort in delivery, inconsistent release
104 Ismael Alcantara RF 20.06 ROK 40 30 50 good build, athletic, leverage in swing, power potential old for level, ? on overall hit tool, distance from bigs